PESHAWAR: Amid ongoing protests against unavailability of free flour, Peshawar district administration has reverted to distribution of the commodity at village and neighbourhood council level after a mob looted a flour truck at one of the major distribution points a day earlier.

On Monday, a mob looted a flour truck at Ring Road Park while similar incident was also reported from Dera Ismail Khan.

Officials told Dawn that earlier authorities had planned to distribute free flour at two major points in Hayatabad and Ring Road Park. However, after the Monday’s incident, they decided to shift the distribution of free flour to village and neighbourhood council level. “About two to three points would be setup at each flour distribution centre. We are going to set up more than 800 such points in the provincial capital,” an official said.

He said that distribution through two main centres was planned as experiments; however, it failed due to impatience and lack of discipline among people. Besides, he said, a large number of people from other districts were residing in Peshawar and they were also visiting the flour distribution points, which was leading to congestion and overcrowding at those centres.

Protests against unavailability of the commodity continue in different districts

The provincial caretaker minister for food, Haji Fazal Elahi, told Dawn that government had decided to increase the flour distribution points to over 800 to control the situation.

He said that situation across the province remained normal on Tuesday. He said that there was no shortage of lour and more wheat was likely to arrive soon.

On the other hand, a large number of people gathered in Ashraf Road, Khyber Colony, Yousafabad, Ittehad Colony, Zaryab Colony, Faqeerabad, Ring Road, Badhber and other parts of the city to collect free flour and squabbled with each other.

Also on Tuesday, a large number of protesters including women staged a sit-in on Ring Road against unavailability of free flour. Similarly, protests took place on Kohat Road and Zarghuni Mosque Road in Hayatabad against unavailability of flour.

The protesters alleged that they were forced to wait for long and then returned home empty handed. They also alleged that flour was distributed among blue-eyed boys and poor were not receiving their share.

On the other hand, mobs looted about 986 more bags of flour in different areas of Dera Ismail Khan division on Tuesday.

Commissioner Nisar Ahmed took notice of riots during distribution of flour and also called a high-level meeting in this regard.

According to police report, an official assigned to distribution of flour in Hathala area of Kulachi tehsil said that about 4,200 bags of 10-kilogram flour were brought in three trucks for free distribution among the deserving families. He said that 1,400 bags were loaded in each truck to be distributed at different places of Kulachi.

During the distribution in Hathala, 986 bags were left to be distributed due to failure of online system, which infuriated people and they looted the flour truck. Police registered a case against 400 to 450 unidentified persons.

Meanwhile, riots were reported during distribution of free flour in Prova tehsil of Dera Ismail Khan. It was also reported that police baton charged the people. However, police controlled the situation and the flour was distributed peacefully.

In Tank district, riots were reported during distribution of free flour while police personnel resorted to baton charge to disperse the angry protesters.

The people, who had come to take flour, staged a sit-in and blocked Dera-Tank Road.

DI Khan Commissioner Nisar Ahmad Khan took notice of unpleasant incidents during distribution of free flour at certain points and directed the authorities concerned to ensure completion of the process in a disciplined manner.

He called an emergency meeting at his office that was attended by deputy commissioners of Dera Tank and South Waziristan besides assistant commissioners through video link.

The commissioner directed them to take effective steps so that such incidents could be avoided in future and the deserving people were provided with free flour in an organised manner.

In Shangla, the residents of Puran blocked Puran-Martung road on Tuesday to protest price hike and ‘humiliation’ of people at free flour distribution points.

The protesters said that administration failed to control artificial price hike in the district during Ramazan. They said that price of every commodity was increased by 50 per cent.

They said that administration also failed to distribute free flour among people in a respectable manner. They said that relevant officials were not visiting markets in Puran to check prices of food items.

The protesters reopened the road when assistant commissioner assured them of devising a better mechanism for distribution of free flour.

In Lakki Marwat, two flour dealers were arrested for demanding money from people for provision of free flour in Tajori and Betanni areas on Tuesday.

Assistant Commissioner Najmullah Dawar was told by people during a visit to the market that the dealers were demanding Rs300 from them for provision of the commodity under the government scheme.

He ordered arrest of two flour dealers and registration of cases against them under relevant sections of law. He also took notice of delaying tactics used by dealers in distribution of free flour.

In Bannu, the district administration has set up 103 distribution points to provide free flour to 188,000 beneficiaries of Benazir Income Support Programme.

According to a food official, special arrangements have been made at distribution points so that people can get the commodity without facing any trouble.

In Mansehra, Adviser to Chief Minister Zafar Mehmood directed officials of food department and owners of mills to ensure distribution of flour among deserving families without any irregularities.

“You have to distribute free flour among 0.3 million families in the district under the government’s relief programme. I would not compromise on its quality and irregularities committed by any stakeholder,” he told a meeting.

The meeting was also attended by the Prime Minister’s Adviser Sardar Shahjehan Yusuf, Deputy Commissioner Shahid Bilal Rao and heads of different departments.

Mr Mehmood also directed the food department to cancel licences and initiate legal action against the dealers involved in sale and purchase of wheat flour meant for deserving families.

Sardar Shahjehan Yusuf on the occasion directed the deputy commissioner to increase number of flour distribution points.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2023



Stuck in the past
Updated 09 Jun, 2023

Stuck in the past

Dar's enduring fixation with the exchange rate suggests that he has learned nothing from past mistakes.
Unequivocal message
09 Jun, 2023

Unequivocal message

AN unmistakably forceful message has been sent out that puts to rest any notion of a house divided. The military top...
Early closure
09 Jun, 2023

Early closure

ON the face of it, closing shops early is a sound idea. Not only would the move help save energy during the stifling...
Qureshi returns
Updated 08 Jun, 2023

Qureshi returns

Powerbrokers fail to grasp that political legitimacy is drawn from public support and can only be contested through the democratic process.
Lawyer’s killing
08 Jun, 2023

Lawyer’s killing

THE shocking murder of Supreme Court lawyer Abdul Razzaq Shar on a Quetta thoroughfare on Tuesday raises a number of...
Infinite jest
08 Jun, 2023

Infinite jest

IF this government’s political record were to be described as dark comedy, its economic management would be a...